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Taiaha to serve as kaitiaki over Meng and his whanau

The presentation of an elaborately-carved taiaha was a feature of a civic farewell for Mayor Meng Foon and wife Ying last night.

The taiaha was presented by Mr Foon’s successor as mayor, Rehette Stoltz.

Master of Ceremonies Walter Walsh said it recognised the core values of aroha, manaakitanga and rangitiratanga Mr Foon displayed, and the work he and his family had done and continued to do for the Gisborne district and East Coast communities.

The four eyes on the taiaha represented Nga Hau e Wha (the four winds), signalled that no matter where Mr Foon and his family travelled, this taiaha would always call them home — just like the four winds of Tawhirimatea.

The surface pattern of the rakau (wooden stick) was called Raperape and spoke of the flowing water and was a “moko-tuku-pu” of Tangaroa.

With Gisborne being a city vastly surrounded by moana (open water, ocean), it only made sense to adorn the taonga with a pattern symbolic to Tangaroa and symbolic of the East Coast.

The taiaha would serve as a kaitiaki (guardian/protector) over Meng and his whanau and always remind him that no matter where he goes, home is where the heart is on the East Coast, said Mr Walsh.

The presentation was made at the start of a two-hour function in the new wharekai (dining hall) at Te Poho-o-Rawiri at which tributes to Mr Foon were paid by various members of the community in a function kept moving along by Mr Walsh.

It included a number of speakers representing all iwi of the district, as well as the Tongan and Chinese communities and others.

The speakers were supported by waiata performed by Horouta wananga.

Newly-appointed Race Relations Commissioner Mr Foon delighted the audience with a song in Cantonese.

A number of speakers praised Mayoress Ying Foon, who was presented with a bouquet.

CIVIC FAREWELL: An elaborately-carved taiaha was presented to Meng Foon last night at his farewell function by his successor as mayor, Rehette Stoltz. Picture by Paul Rickard